“It is universally recognized that what we do matters less than why we do it.” — John Stott
“Men may acquire knowledge, but wisdom is a gift direct from God.” — Bob Jones, Sr.
“I learned very early in my life never to take counsel of my fears.” — General George Patton
“A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength” (Prov. 24:5).
Wisdom gives strength, and the greater your comprehension, the more strength you will acquire. No wonder wisdom is so highly esteemed in Scripture. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Prov. 4:7). Whatever your achievements in life, you should always pursue wisdom first. God dedicated an entire book of the Bible to wisdom. Proverbs is a treasure trove for anyone seeking good judgment.
Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are tremendous assets in adversity. There are times when these are hard-to-find commodities. But God invites all who lack wisdom to ask. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). He promises to deliver. The only requirement is asking “in faith.” James 1 explains: “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (vv. 6–7). Faithless prayers are powerless, but faith-based prayer is the key that opens the storehouse of wisdom.
Someone once said, “Knowledge is knowing what to do. Wisdom is knowing when and how to do it.” Knowledge has to do with facts. Wisdom is knowing how to apply those facts. And understanding is the ability to see the big picture and plot the best course of action based on all the components. It is essential to appreciate the larger canvas. Incidentals fade in importance as you grasp your life as a whole, not just in smaller segments. Increasing your understanding builds your faith and resilience.
Andrew Carnegie, in his book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” gives his formula for peace. First, acquire all the knowledge you can about your situation. Gather all the facts. Second, make a decision based on your understanding of those facts. Third, never look back once you have made the decision. Second-guessing and rehashing previous decisions do not promote mental and emotional stability. Uncertainty and doubt will weaken you, but good understanding and good decisions gives you strength.
Joseph’s picture of God was bigger than the pain in his heart. God birthed in Joseph a photograph of his future through his dream. His father rebuked him for verbalizing his vision. His brothers despised and hated him. They plotted against him and sold him into slavery. Beginning at age 17, Joseph had few things go right for him over the next 13 years. Enslaved, falsely accused, imprisoned, and subject to countless other injustices, he excelled in his captivity and did not give in to victimhood or bitterness. His life was hard, but he determined to follow the vision God had placed in his heart. Joseph went from the pit to the prison to the palace. He survived his persecution and was promoted to a place of great influence. When his brothers came to Egypt and he revealed himself to them, he said, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good” (Gen. 50:20). His understanding of God’s ways was the path to his promotion.
Phillip Brooks commented, “There is often a great deal of knowledge where there is but little wisdom to improve that knowledge. It is not the most knowing Christian, but the most wise Christian who sees, avoids, and escapes Satan’s snares!” Understanding the ways of God is true wisdom, and this wisdom is more important than understanding your circumstances. To accept His viewpoint about your condition requires an act of faith. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not like ours (Isa. 55:8–9). Recognizing our limitations and desperate need of wisdom provokes us to seek the Lord. Proverbs says, “Get wisdom, get understanding” (4:5). Through pursuit we find understanding, which gives us strength in adversity.
- Have you read the book in the Bible that God wrote to teach wisdom?
- Are you fostering a spirit of victimhood or victory?
- Are you accepting God’s viewpoint on your condition?
Taken from “Extraordinary Strength in Adversity” by Harold Vaughan. CLICK HERE for more information on the book.